Well known as the “wettest place on Earth,” also one of the oldest islands in the Hawaiian chain, Kauai has been one of my most favorite islands ever since I was a young girl.
From watching the sunset at Hanalei Bay to checking out the native birds at the Kilauea Lighthouse, I have so many fond memories of this quiet and rustic island. Since it had been a few years since I popped over to the island, I grabbed my friend and we decided to have a full day of adventuring on “The Garden Isle”!
At 5:30AM, in the faded light of the early morning, we got on the first flight out of Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines. Although the sun still hadn’t fully risen after our 30 minute flight, once we landed in Lihue, it was off to start our day!
Kauai does have some public transportation, but with only one day on the island, we got a rental car to make traveling much easier and the fun times were ready to begin!Just a few minutes away from the airport is the local favorite Tip Top Motel Cafe & Bakery and our first stop of our action-packed day. Well known for their incredibly yummy banana macadamia nut pancakes, hearty ox tail soup and huge bowls of loco moco, there is often a line of people waiting to get in before their doors even open at 6:30AM.
For me, it was all about the loco moco. Huge and juicy beef patty on a mound of steamed rice, topped with a fried egg and all covered in a rich brown gravy. It was a good thing that I was going to be busy in Kauai since I would need all day to work off that food!
With our bellies full and our excitement peaking, we made our way to Kauai Backcountry Adventures for some mountain tubing! This tour is probably one of the most popular ones in the island and after going on it, I can totally see why. In a nutshell, we sit in a large inner tube and go down old sugar plantation irrigation ditches and tunnels. Basically, it is the best of a log ride and a lazy river all in one.
After checking in and getting our gear from our awesome guides, it was off for a quick drive to the privately owned lands located on Lihue Plantation, one of the oldest and most expensive sugar cane plantations back in the mid 1800s. Our guide regaled us with tons of information and history about the area, and it was fascinating to learn how the plantations and their migrant workers were one of the main reasons that Hawaii is currently such a melting pot of culture.
After a photo stop to see some of the lush greenery that Kauai is famous for, it was off to begin our tubing expedition. Once we got snug and nestled in our inner tube, it was time to begin! There is really no controlling the tubes as they race down the ditches, so it was great to just lean back, stretch my legs and enjoy the awesome views.
It is crazy to think that these irrigation canals and tunnels were engineered and hand dug back in the 1870s. Each twist and turn was a surprise, and the tunnels, oh wow the tunnels! Each one was completely different from the last. Short, long, cavernous or narrow, and to make things even more exciting, we got to turn off our headlamps for the final tunnel so we could experience it in pitch darkness. Ooooooh!!!
Our guides were really great about making sure we were comfortable, and calling “Butts up!” when we had to lift our tushies so as not to get them whacked on any large rocks below us, but my favorite parts were definitely the little slides where we would end up picking up a bit of speed. That perfect mixture of a thrill ride and relaxing river was one of the highlights of my day.
Towards the end of our tubing trip, we were allowed to pop out of our tubes and sit or lie on them in anyway we liked. I stuck with the tried and true “pop my arms and head through the hole” technique, whereas my friend tried to be a little bit more adventurous and lie flat along the top, but as you can see, it didn’t quite work out as intended.
Unfortunately all fun things must eventually come to an end, but we got to go to a pretty swimming hole where we had a yummy deli-style lunch with “make your own” sandwiches, cookies, chips and water to wash it all down. There was even the neighborhood cat Mochi to keep us company!
Is that the end of our day? Nope! There is still more to come so stay tuned!